For the Pittsburgh Steelers more than most teams, training camp and the preseason are the time chiefly reserved for the front office working out extensions with some of their core players who are pending free agents heading into the final year of their deals.
Thus, it is with a certain level of anticipation that we wade through this time, awaiting news of a deal or two. And we waited a while for any, before the Steelers announced that they signed reserve inside linebacker Vince Williams to a new three-year deal that ties him to the team through the 2018 season.
But that was not the deal that we were waiting to hear about, and with each passing day, many have begun to grow more pessimistic about the prospects of the team working out a new extension for All-Pro guard David DeCastro, who is entering his fifth season and coming off the best year of his career.
Even DeCastro has in the past acknowledged that the prospect of working out a longterm extension has been on his mind, as he told Jim Wexell today, but Wexell also shares that the former first-round draft pick believes the extension will indeed get done before Monday, when the Steelers open the regular season against the Redskins, saying, “we’re close”.
Dave DeCastro doesn’t deny it’s on his mind but is confident his contract extension will get done before Monday. “We’re close,” he said.
— James C Wexell (@jimwexell) September 7, 2016
The Steelers operate under a self-imposed moratorium during the regular season, during which they do not discuss contracts, but they have gotten deals done as late as the ride to the stadium the day of the game, as they did with Troy Polamalu several years back.
Once thought perhaps a more simple deal as a guard, DeCastro’s blossoming over the course of the last season and some high-profile deals doled out to those playing the guard position have raised the stakes a bit, or at the very least have made the negotiating process a bit more complicated.
DeCastro is currently schedule to play the 2016 season under the team’s fifth-year option, which pays him a guaranteed amount of $8,070,000. While a new deal at this point might likely come out to a per-year payout of about $2 million or so higher than his current salary, as the latest top-end guard contracts indicate, it need not have a significant impact on this year’s salary cap.
DeCastro would be the fourth of the Steelers’ starting offensive linemen to reach a new deal, with left guard Ramon Foster having already earned two new three-year deals, the most recent having been signed in March. Maurkice Pouncey and Marcus Gilbert both signed new deals during the 2014 training camp period. Left tackle Alejandro Villanueva is entering his second season.